There’s a reality show on tv where a guy has seven wives and that gets me thinking. My first thought being ‘Who in the hell would want seven mothers-in-law?’ Now I don’t know anything about the religious or cultural bases of polygamy but on the other hand, it’s a lot more fun to have an opinion that’s not encumbered by knowledge or experience. I’m free to just imagine how my life would have been different if I had veered off into that lifestyle. My guess is that you start real early, like say the age of 11 or 12. It’s natural for a boy of that age to start taking an interest in girls. It’s the beginning of the process of finding a mate and then hooking up for life. But not for the polygamist. He’s looking for a whole bunch of mates. Does that make him gradually less fussy? Like okay he’s going to find one who’s beautiful and smart and witty but he’ll lower the bar for the other six? And does he find one and then look for another and another and so on? Like a small business that starts out with one store and then eventually branches out into a chain and starts selling franchises?
I would think if you’re going to have seven wives you can’t make it a surprise. You’ve got to get them all used to each other and the situation during the dating years. Before you can marry them as a group, you have to date them as a group. Okay how does that work? It’s normal to date a bunch of different girls through your teenage years. But not at the same time. Every boy would love the take a cheerleader to the dance. Only a polygamist wants to take all the cheerleaders to the dance. And what happens when he gets there? Does he dance with all seven at once? If he dances with one at a time, do the other six just sit there? That won’t work. Cheerleaders need to shake their pom-poms. What if he dances with one girl more than the others? I’ve met women and believe me they don’t like that kind of thing. And there are other problems with bulk dating. You’ve got to find a night when all seven are available and have something to wear. You’ve gotta rent a small school bus to pick them up. And where do you go on the date? Dinner would be a thousand bucks. Maybe take them golfing. You could play in one foursome on the front nine and the other on the back.
Maybe polygamists don’t date. Maybe they just get everybody together and do chores. And then one day, the guy takes out a mortgage on the family farm, goes down to the jewelry store and buys seven rings, gets the girls to stand in a circle with him on his knees in the middle and pops the eternal question ‘Will you all marry me?’ Maybe that’s the origin of the phrase ‘You all’. And is it an all or nothing deal? What if one says ‘no’, does the guy rescind the offer pending him finding a suitable substitute? Does he say ‘I need to have seven wives. I just can’t see this working with only six.’ As a sidebar, let me just say that I’ve been married for a long long long long long long long time and I can’t imagine it working with two wives, let alone seven. Some days I can’t imagine it working with one wife.
But I digress. So let’s say the women all say ‘yes’ and we move on to the wedding. Okay we got the groom standing at the altar with seven brides coming up the aisle. They get through the ‘I do’ and ‘We do’ part. And when the brides all toss their bouquets it looks like the botanical gardens exploded. The reception is a big affair because you’re bringing eight families together. Everyone is especially nice to the groom because with seven brides they know he may not survive the wedding night. But with the help of youthful energy and appropriate medication, all goes well and they start life’s journey as a happily married gang. Now the fun begins.
Specifically, the sleeping arrangements. Are they all in one huge bed like in a Dickens’ book? Or does each wife have her own bunk for which hubby has visiting rights. Do they each have their own room? That’s a big house. How many newlyweds can afford an eight-bedroom backsplit? But if the wives share a bedroom what happens when the man of the house drops by and hops into bed with one of the other wives? How’s a girl supposed to sleep with those kinds of shenanigans going on a pillow toss away? The logical solution of course is for hubby to have his own bedroom and for the wives to all sleep together in a dormitory where they bet with each other as to who’s going to be summoned to the mainstage. As a wife it may be something you enjoy or something you dread but with seven of you to share the load, even at worst it’s no more than a once a week thing.
But the living arrangements have to be the toughest part. The cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, the shopping. How does that get divided up? Or does everybody do everything together? Like Siamese septuplets. And most importantly, who gets to choose what television shows to watch? I hope you’re not going to tell me the guy makes all the decisions. I tried that at my house and I can guarantee you it doesn’t work. And that’s with just one wife. If there were seven of them, I’d have a full blown mutiny on my hands.
So now we’re getting to the core of this whole lifestyle. It’s got nothing to do with the guy. There are millions of men who would happily have a harem as long as they were treated as the absolute unquestionable authority on everything. But there are damn few women who would have any interest in being in that harem. It was a challenge for me to find even one bride. I can’t imagine having to find seven. Or maybe I’ve got it wrong. Maybe it’s easier to be one of seven than it is to be the one. In any case, the whole plan only works if the women are willing to be subservient. To be treated like property. It’s not the kind of relationship I would ever want long term but I wouldn’t mind trying it for a weekend. But my point is that the wives, not the polygamist, are the key to the lifestyle. And the clock is ticking. One night the guy is gonna come home and find the ladies have changed the lock on the dormitory.